Chicago White Sox, MLB

Chicago White Sox might now be American League favorites

The Chicago White Sox have gotten a mixture of contributions from veterans and young players to take over the AL’s number one seed.

The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005. Since then, they haven’t done much, last making the playoffs in 2008. Following several years of irrelevance, general manager Rick Hahn went on a spending spree this past offseason to add veterans to complement the young, emerging talent. They weren’t supposed to be World Series favorites yet this year, but they were expected to take a big step forward.

However, to this point, Hahn’s plan has worked as well as anyone could have imagined. After a weekend sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the White Sox now sit at 30-16. With two weeks to go, they have taken over the No. 1 seed in the American League.

How have the White Sox done it?

The White Sox actually haven’t gotten as much production from some of their newcomers as was hoped. Edwin Encarnacion, for example, is batting just .174 with eight home runs, while Nomar Mazara has posted just a .586 OPS. Dallas Keuchel has been good, but he’s currently on the IL.

At the same time, many of their internal players have taken giant steps forward this year. The offense is led by Jose Abreu, one of MLB’s best-kept secrets since 2014 who at age 33 is having a career year, and Tim Anderson, who is following up a batting title with another spectacular performance. Luis Robert is a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. And Eloy Jimenez, somewhat quietly, is putting together a great season.

On the mound, holdovers Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease have been strong, the former with a no-hitter to his credit this year. Meanwhile, Alex Colome has a sparkling 1.02 ERA serving as the team’s closer.

The field in the AL is currently wide open, as the Yankees and Astros, favorites coming into the season, should still make the expanded playoffs but have been disappointments. Today, the White Sox are about to begin a critical four-game series against the Twins, with first place in the AL Central on the line.

It’s hard to say that any team has a strong chance to make the World Series, given the expanded playoffs and especially the randomness of a best-of-three first round. Yet if the White Sox can win that Minnesota series, they’ll be in a clear position to be AL favorites (though the A’s and Rays may have something to say about that).

Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, the Chicago White Sox have taken a major step forward this year and are set up to be contenders for quite a while in the American League. Give credit to Hahn and the front office for executing their plan so well to this point.

Next: Cubs and White Sox make weird MLB history with no-hitters

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